Arterial hypotension is an equivalent term for low blood pressure. It is often temporary and doesn’t have any consequences. Orthostatic hypotension is the most common type of low blood pressure.
What is arterial hypotension?
Arterial hypotension is a cardiovascular problem which is characterised by significantly low blood pressure. This is when the pressure that the blood exercises on the arterial wall is lower than normal.
We can distinguish between two types of arterial hypotension. Orthostatic hypotension is defined by a drop in blood pressure after a rapid increase. This is the most common type. Postprandial hypotension occurs after eating a meal when the blood rushes towards the digestive system to help the body digest food. This mainly affects older people.
Unlike arterial hypertension (AHT), hypotension does not lead to serious complications. It can however cause fainting spells.
Symptoms of arterial hypotension
Arterial hypotension more often than not does not present any symptoms. It can nonetheless, in some cases, be accompanied by several clinical signs:
- extreme tiredness
- blurred vision
- problems with concentration
- passing out in serious cases
Causes and risk factors with arterial hypotension
The most common cause of hypotension is blood loss following a haemorrhage. It is because of this that people who suffer from anaemia often fall unconscious.
Yet other factors can cause low blood pressure, such as dehydration, taking certain medications (such as those to deal with hypertension), varicose veins, alcohol and cannabis consumption, as well as diseases related to the nervous system (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome).
Some people are more at risk of suffering from a temporary drop in blood pressure than others: pregnant women, old people and diabetics or those suffering from heart problems.
Diagnosing Arterial Hypotension
Arterial hypotension is very often under-diagnosed. In fact, blood pressure readings taken by a blood pressure monitor are often carried out when the patient is sitting down, even though it is more effective to take the reading when the patient is standing in the case of hypotension. Anxiety which is brought on by medical tests at the doctors can also temporarily raise blood pressure levels and distort the results.
In order to establish the most accurate diagnosis, the patient can wear a device for 24 hours which automatically records their blood pressure every 15 minutes during the day, and every 30 minutes at night. This technique is called ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM).
A person is considered to be suffering from arterial hypotension when their systolic pressure (the pressure of the blood when the heart contracts) registers between approximately 90mmHg (millimetres of mercury).
Arterial hypotension treatment
Most of the time, hypotension does not require a doctors appointment. Treatments often boil down to addressing the underlying causes by making lifestyle changes (refraining from consuming alcohol or cannabis, regularly drinking water, avoiding getting up too quickly, wearing support stockings).
In the context of chronic orthostatic hypotension which has an impact on a person’s quality of life, taking fludrocortisone-based medications may be advised. These medications are designed to increase blood flow.